This piece was written as part of the ‘Writing in the Museum’ course and was inspired by Robert Sawyers’ painting Italian Station Café.


She sits with her back to the glass bead curtain,
upright, head slightly bowed as if she’s posing
in a way she’s taught herself from the movies,
facing the bar, getting half the attention
of the regular drinkers and gamblers
because she’s got the gift of fertility.
Then, sooner or later, a man will enter,
placing in front of her a glass of Cynar.
As a drunk calls for wine and the dealer
cuts the cards for the next game, she’ll go with him,
out of anger: towards her father’s Party,
her brother who left for the seminary,
but mainly towards her mother for dying.
Her name is Rosa, or, perhaps, Rosetta.
And when the day comes that the man doesn’t enter,
she’ll pick up her bag and cross to the station,
where she’ll buy a ticket for the streets of Rome.


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